Not that we like to play favorites, but this category in the inaugural Yahooies!, Yahoo TV’s awards honoring the best of the 2014-15 TV season (including summer shows), is definitely a fun one.
Spoiler alert if you’re not caught up on the shows’ current seasons! The nominees for Character You Love to Hate are…
Thomas Barrow, Downton Abbey
This scheming underbutler is Downtown Abbey’s resident antagonist, but he’s also one of the most fascinating villains on television. Played to perfection by Robert James-Collier, Thomas Barrow is the British period drama’s main manipulator, a man who blackmails lady’s maids and lies about his father dying. Of course, part of Barrow’s problem is the fact that he’s a closeted gay man during a time when homosexuality is considered a crime, but it doesn’t help that he’s always been resentful of his aristocratic employers. We could almost feel sorry for Thomas when he tried to “cure” his homosexuality with injections this season, but then he goes and does something devious like inviting Lord Sinderby’s (James Faulkner) former mistress Diana (Alice Patten) and his illegitimate son to show up at Downton under the guise that “daddy” wants to see them, and we’re instantly reminded why this guy is so lovably hateable. — Victoria Leigh Miller
Lucious Lyon, Empire
Lucious Lyon (played by Terrence Howard) has serious issues — and we’re not just talking about his ALS misdiagnosis. The Empire kingpin-turned-killer is selfish, manipulative, and violent, but he’s also one of the most entertaining characters on the hit Fox hip-hop drama. Lucious’s ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) said it best: “Everything you touch, you destroy. Look what you did to my sons.” Indeed, Empire’s polarizing patriarch beat and shamed his son Jamal (Jussie Smollett) for being gay, and punched his youngest boy, Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), in the face. Is it any wonder Cookie tried to smother this guy with a pillow? Of course, you know what they say about karma, and Lucious is currently in jail for the murder of his ex-cousin-in-law Bunkie. But even behind bars, this ruthless record company exec promises it’s “game time, bitches!” — VLM
Dr. Wells/Eobard Thawne, The Flash
You know those nightmares where something bad is about to happen, but you’re powerless to stop it? That’s what Season 1 of The Flash was like. From the pilot episode, the audience knew that Dr. Wells had something truly awful planned for Barry, but the characters remained blissfully unaware until it was too late. Actor Tom Cavanagh found the perfect balance of rage hidden by a Mike-from-the-Brady Bunch-style fathering. Too much menace and Team Flash look like idiots for missing the clues; too little and you forget he’s actually a madman from the future. — Robert Chan
Capt. “Black Jack” Randall, Outlander
We love to hate this character so much, we actually made a video campaigning for actor Tobias Menzies to receive an Emmy nomination (alas, to no avail). Black Jack tormented Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in difficult-to-watch ways, but it’s the 18th Century sadomasochist’s calculated fascination with Jamie (Sam Heughan) that truly made him simultaneously repellent and captivating. “That boy and I, we were creating a masterpiece, an exquisite, bloody masterpiece,” he said, recounting his flogging of Jamie. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” Menzies explained the dark dance, which culminated in haunting scenes of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse in the final episodes of Season 1, perfectly: “If we are to believe that sadomasochism is his kink, then Jamie represents someone who cannot be mastered and that is a challenge. He wants to break and dominate him to prove he can. I also think at some level he is struck by Jamie as a human being. Jack is not without his small moments of humanity. He has admiration for people. The weird thing is then his admiration is manifested and communicated by wanting to take it apart and find out how it works. That’s where the brutality comes in.” — Mandi Bierly
Gemma Teller, Sons of Anarchy
Speaking of brutality, Katey Sagal’s fierce matriarch, who came in at No. 32 on our recent list of the 99 Greatest TV Characters Since Tony Soprano, entered SOA’s final season hiding a huge secret: she’d taken a carving fork to the head of her son Jax’s wife and killed her. Then she blamed it on an innocent man and kissed Jax goodnight knowing what he’d do to the poor guy — but not guessing that Jax would start an all-out street war in the name of revenge. In the end, it was Gemma’s refusal to let Jax walk away from the club and his family’s cycle of violence that sealed both of their tragic fates — and that may be the real reason some fans will never forgive Gemma (while still lamenting that Sagal never earned an Emmy nod, of course). — MB
Kai, The Vampire Diaries
Fans of TVD already know Kai (Chris Wood) was the most charismatic villain introduced to the show since Joseph Morgan’s Klaus. So to keep this simple for the uninitiated: Kai was a magically-misfit sociopath banished to a prison since 1994, which is when he killed four of his siblings — and attempted to murder others — trying to ensure that he would one day become the leader of their Gemini Coven. After making a serious enemy of Bonnie (Kat Graham) there, he hit our world and brought with him his sharp tongue (often in cheek) and his ability to make himself momentarily invisible. The latter came in handy when he murdered his twin sister, who was pregnant with twins, during her wedding ceremony. He did other heinous stuff (killed his entire coven, put a spell on Nina Dobrev’s Elena so that she’d sleep for as long as Bonnie lives), and yet, part of you didn’t believe that the show would actually kill him off — he was that delicious. But producers did… and cast Wood in TVD exec producer Julie Plec’s new show Containment. — MB
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